Conference paper Open Access

It Can't Be For Nothing: Communicating Intentions for Play Through Trophy Design in The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II

Stein, Eric

To borrow from Katherine Isbister, a games researcher and educator, one of my primary concerns when it comes to the study and design of games is "how games move us."  Isbister's invocation of "movement" has a double meaning---that is, to be moved as both an emotional and an embodied experience. Indeed, in chapter three of her book, "Bodies at Play," Isbister explores precisely this intersection between feeling and the body. Following Isbister, this talk examines both games in developer Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic oeuvre: The Last of Us (2013) and The Last of Us Part II (2020). It is specifically interested in the way in which Naughty Dog subtly attempts to move the player through the extrinsic motivator of PlayStation trophies, and the way this movement has evolved in the seven years between releases. It is my contention that the marked difference in emphasis in trophy design between parts one and two of The Last of Us indicates a change in ethos on Naughty Dog's part that brings (at least some of) the ludic aspects of the sequel in line with the themes that it tackles.

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